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ASTA

DOT Hazardous Materials Rule Fix is victory for agents and consumers

New language eliminates verbal disclosure and acknowledgement requirements.

ALEXANDRIA, VA – ASTA applauds the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for taking a common sense approach to the way travel sellers communicate information about hazardous materials to the flying public.

Imbedded within a large Hazardous Materials Harmonization Rulemaking published in the Federal Register on Aug. 25, PHMSA has proposed revising its hazardous materials rule [49 CFR 175.25(b)] for telephone and in-person reservations that requires travel sellers, effective Jan. 1, 2015, to (a) verbally recite the hazardous materials notice and (b) obtain the purchaser’s acknowledgement that they understand the rules before being allowed to purchase a ticket. PHMSA’s revised rule for telephone and in-person transactions eliminates the acknowledgement requirement, and permits, as an option, the disclosure to be fulfilled by including a notice on the e-ticket confirmation.

“Over the past three years ASTA has argued, and the government has now agreed, that this rule makes no sense with over-the-phone and in-person transactions. The public interest will continue to be served, as travelers will be given the notice with their ticket, and again at check-in, which they must affirmatively agree to understand before their boarding pass is issued,” said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby. “Removing the verbal pre-ticketing disclosure and acknowledgement burden is a huge victory for the travel agency industry, and is good for the traveling public. According to our economic impact analysis, this rule change will save the travel agency industry more than $58 million in initial training and programming costs and $26 million per year in ongoing compliance costs.”

PHMSA’s new rule is consistent with ASTA’s March 25 petition requesting that DOT rescind or modify the existing telephone and in-person requirements. In its petition, ASTA asked DOT, as an alternative, to model the disclosure requirement after its baggage fee disclosure rule, which is fulfilled when an e-ticket confirmation is produced and distributed to the purchaser.

While ASTA is pleased with this outcome, there is still work to be done. ASTA, as a member of the Aviation Rulemaking Committee responsible for producing the industry guidance document -an Advisory Circular (AC)- will work with PHMSA to ensure a smooth adoption of the new rule. Issues that need to be addressed include: drafting compliance instructions and disclosure language for ticket confirmations; consulting with Global Distribution System (GDS) partners to determine how they can assist with ensuring the disclosure notice is provided with all passenger e-ticket receipts; clearly defining what “another equally suitable method” for compliance means; and setting a reasonable adoption date.

Tatiana Rokou

Tatiana is the news coordinator for TravelDailyNews Media Network (traveldailynews.gr, traveldailynews.com and traveldailynews.asia). Her role includes monitoring the hundreds of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skimming the most important according to our strategy.

She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.

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